A senior Japanese government official on Wednesday suggested the governments of Japan and China would narrow their differences and resolve disputes in a spirit of "facing the future".
"Although Japan and China have disagreements and even disputes on certain issues I believe they can be resolved if we always uphold the spirit of facing the future," said Japanese Vice-Minister of Education Kondo Shinji to Xinhua at the Fourth China-Japan University President Forum.
Japan's political links with China have cooled significantly over the past year due to a range of disputes many associated with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Second World War criminals.
However, the stand-off has not had a significant affect on bilateral collaboration in other fields such as education.
"Youth exchanges are of great importance in promoting long-term friendship between Japan and China," Kondo said. He noted that more Japanese universities and education institutions were willing to play a positive role in exchange and cooperation programs.
"As far as I know around 2,000 Japanese and Chinese colleges and universities have so far signed agreements of cooperation," he told Xinhua.
Kondo pointed out that Japan was the second largest partner, behind the United States, with China on cooperation in advanced education.
Statistics from Japan show about 120,000 overseas students are studying there with 80,000 from China.
"If my prediction is correct the figure will continue to grow in the coming years," Kondo added.
He stressed that Japan and China had a long history of exchanges in culture, science and technology. Japan was keen to continue with this tradition and to expand bilateral educational cooperation.
"Where I'm standing now is the capital of the great Tang Dynasty, and since then, many Japanese students have come here to study and brought knowledge back home to help the country develop," Kondo said.
He hoped stronger bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the educational fields would also help China prosper.
Japan's education ministry proposed to invite about 1,100 Chinese high school students to study and the first 200 would leave in May, Kondo said.
In addition, the ministry was also holding consultations with its Chinese counterpart on the next five-year plan of the Japan-China overseas student program from 2006-2010, he added. .
His ministry was considering increasing the budget for overseas Chinese students who studiedf in expensive private universities.
(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2006)